“This narrative is far more than just a family story. The record of Dutch life from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s is positively amazing in its completeness and detail through the actual lives of these family members. The description of the Dutch experience in the war is well told-riveting, in fact-and historically valuable.”
— Barbara J. Scot, author of Prairie Reunion, a New York Times Notable Book for 1995
This novel is a true-to-life story written in creative nonfiction style.
In 1923, the Netherlands is one of the most prosperous countries in continental Europe. In its southernmost region, a little girl is born prematurely and with a tenacious inner strength. She is called Henrica.
Henrica quickly grows to be inquisitive and fiercely independent; traits not encouraged in children of the time, especially not in girls. She has the great fortune, however, of being born to parents who recognize the gift of a child’s nature and who, in their parenting, provide firm guidance, faith and education.
As the second child in a large Catholic family, Henrica learns early on the importance of her role within it. Her childhood education is enriched by frequent strolls in the footsteps of her parents, aunts, uncles and, of enormous impact, her grandparents. From their confident natures she learns to find joy in the simplicity of daily routines, to learn from mistakes, to not linger in regrets, and to allow tears to flow only sparingly.
Balancing respect for authority (an intrinsic characteristic of the Dutch) and significant responsibilities within the family with her own rapidly developing self-awareness, proves a challenging task for Henrica but one that produces remarkable results.
When disaster in the way of death and war befalls her at the tender age of 15, Henrica’s life lessons together with her inborn traits serve her well in aiding her family’s survival. Those same values provide the strength she relies on when she faces a life-changing decision in pursuit of a dream.
Henrica firmly believes that a child’s education begins generations before it is born. For this reason, she embraces the lives of those who set her education in motion and her story harkens back to a time before her own. Today, at 87 years of age and still going strong, Henrica wants to pass along her life’s lesson which is that life is never about giving up—that is easy. Do what is not easy: Remain resolutely strong in moments when those around you falter. That is when you are of true value.
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